Rocklin school district announces deal with teachers union, avoiding possible strike

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Rocklin Unified School District and Rocklin’s teachers union reached a tentative salary agreement for the 2017-18 school year during a Tuesday night meeting, averting a possible strike nearly a month into the academic year, the district announced.

Rocklin Unified and Rocklin Teachers Professional Association agreed to a 1.95 percent salary and stipend increase as well as a $20 per month increase to the health benefit cap for the past academic year, the district said in a news release.

Negotiations between the parties are still ongoing for the 2018-19 school year, the district said.

The district and RTPA had been negotiating terms regarding wages, benefits, special education policies and safety training for the 2017-18 academic year since May 2017. School started Aug. 15 for Rocklin Unified teachers and students.

“By settling, we will not be in a strike status, which then can give everybody a moment to breathe,” RTPA representative Colleen Crowe said.

Crowe called the 2017-18 deal “a step in the right direction,” but said a better compensation package would be necessary for the 2018-19 deal to attract incoming teachers.

Rocklin Unified announced in early August that it would pay substitute teachers $425 per day in the event of a strike.

Superintendent Roger Stock said Thursday the district is “extremely pleased” to have 2017-18 negotiations done with, after a fact-finding report issued in July made a strike possible.

“Frankly, at the conclusion of that process, a strike was a legal option available to the union,” Stock said. “The district honored that report, but really we were thrilled not to have a strike and to really have 2017-18 behind us.”

In a news release detailing the most recent negotiations before Tuesday, the school district said it met with the RTPA all day on Aug. 31 to discuss a deal.

At that time, RTPA’s proposal asked for a 2.5 percent salary increase for 2017-18. The school district’s proposal allowed for a 1.4 percent increase. The salary increase of 1.95 percent agreed upon is the exact middle ground of those numbers.

Rocklin Unified’s Aug. 31 offer also allowed for what it called “significant additions” to language guiding special education and related safety protocols.

The offer included the establishment of a joint Special Education Solutions Panel, which would focus on unaddressed concerns regarding class size, instructional materials, curriculum, support, policies and protocols and a number of other areas.

Crowe said two of the main biggest focuses for 2018-19 negotiations are special education and safety.

“I believe the district is on board with the safety piece, and we’re trying to get them on board with special education too,” Crowe said.

Stock said the district has looked at options to increase safety provisions.

“Matter of fact, our school board last night (Wednesday) took action to approve $535,000 using one-time funds toward safety work” that included provisions for interior classroom locks, surveillance cameras and other measures, Stock said. This included collaboration with the Rocklin Police Department, he said.

The two parties will next meet on Tuesday to continue 2018-19 negotiations.

Rocklin Unified also reached an agreement with the California School Employees Association, a two-year compensation package totaling a 5.45 percent increase, as announced Aug. 21 in a news release.

CSEA represents classified school district employees, not including teachers. More than 350 Rocklin Unified employees are represented by CSEA, the release said.

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